Robert Fenton Collection

Scope and Content

The collection contains material relating to Fenton's studies and professional career, covering his classes in Letterpress Printing at the Aldenham Institute and awards received, his work in the industry for printing companies such as Crowther & Co and as a compositor for the National Institute of the Blind. Also included are materials relating to Fenton's teaching career at St Brides Foundation Institute and London School of Printing: materials used in his classes such as booklets and leaflets, slides and machinery tools; handwritten and typed annotations organised mostly in notebooks or research files containing information on various subjects such as typesettings and photocomposition machines, halftones and colour separation; yearbooks and prospectuses, indexed papers relating to his retirement and his work with other colleges such as Croydon College of Arts. Also included are materials about his work as a steward at the Royal Festival Hall, where he worked for over 20 years.

It also contains library materials, including books, booklets, periodicals, catalogues and publications by the London School of Printing.

Administrative / Biographical History

Robert George Fenton was born on 15th August 1891 in Mile End, London. He studied evening classes in Letterpress Printing at the Aldenham Institute from 1907 to 1916, when he won competitions and was awarded several prizes. His employment history covers: apprentice and journeyman for Wyman and Sons in London, 1905-1915; compositon layout-man and proof reader for Crowther and Co, 1915-1918; overseer of compositor and deputy to Chief of Letterpress Department of the National Institute for the Blind, 1918-1920; instructor at the St Brides Foundation Printing School when it was re-named London School of Printing and Kindred Trades after coming under the London County Council's direct jurisdiction, 1920- 1922. Fenton worked as an instructor and Head of Composing Department for the London School of Printing until July 1956, and continued to work as a part-time instructor at the same college until July 1961. He also worked as a steward at the Royal Festival Hall from 1950 until the 1970s. Fenton was a member of various trade unions, including the London Society of Compositors, the London Typographical Society and the National Graphical Association. He died at home in 1989.


The items have been arranged into series: the first one relates to Fenton's study and work before joining St Brides Institute and London School of Printing in 1921; a series of documents relating to Fenton's employment at the college as instructor and Head of Composing Department. The last series relates to his library, containing books, periodicals, catalogues, publications and booklets.

Conditions Governing Access

The University Archives and Special Collections Centre is open from Monday-Friday from 1-5pm. It is advisable to book an appointment prior to visiting; this can be done by emailing or by telephone on 020 7514 9333.

Other Finding Aids

An online catalogue is available for this collection.

Archivist's Note

The collection was catalogued by Monica Lilley, Assistant Archivist, University Archives and Special Collections Centre, University of the Arts London.

Conditions Governing Use

A limited number of copies can be made for academic purposes only.

Custodial History

The archive was accumulated by Robert Fenton and it was donated by his family after his death to the London College of Communication Library in 2001. It was later transferred to the University Archives and Special collections Centre.


No accruals are expected.